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Echoes||Finality: Part Two


by freakogamer91

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The dish fell to the floor with a crash. Galaduine’s mind was a whirling torrent of pain and confusion. The young red Gelert couldn’t seem to focus on any one sound as a thousand screaming voices seemed to invade her eardrums.Yet somewhere, through the darkness, she could hear one voice above the others. A calming, familiar voice. And then a face. That face she remembered so well as her brother’s. It was remarkably different now from what it had been when last she had seen him, but it was his all the same. She could see past the disfiguring light blue scars that disguised the left side of his face, past the gold lightning bolt that started from his hairline in the center of his forehead and ended at the base of his muzzle, past the once light blue but now gold, pupil-less eyes to the Gelert beneath them. The same Gelert she had known since she was born.

     Axe. Something was wrong with Axe. Axe was in trouble. She could see it on his face, in the wide, shocked look in his eyes, in the tight clenching of his jaw. But what was wrong? She couldn’t see anything around him. Just Axe and the weapon he had earned his name from.

     Everything around her brother’s face was covered in a purple fog. After a few moments the fog began to fade slowly, allowing the scene to unfold before her.

     When at last the fog had dissipated completely, Gala gasped in shock at the scene before her.

     It was as if she was standing against the wall of the room her brother was in, watching everything unfold before her as an unseen spectator. Axe was standing, his battle axe drawn and ready in front of him, facing a Zafara that she had never seen before. Immediately she knew that something about the Zafara was off. He was a sickly pale green color that she knew had not come from a paint brush.

     An eerie purple light was being emitted from the Zafara’s paws as it hurled a spectral orb of energy at Axe. Gala could see by the shock in his eyes that he had not expected combat. He was unprepared for the speeding orb as it grew bigger with distance. She could sense a power coming from the light beyond her own imagination. The power created by the simple ball of light was much greater than could be expected from such a small entity. It seemed as if it had a life of its own, complete with a mind filled to the brim with malicious thoughts of pain, blood, and death.

     She wanted to cry out, to warn her brother that there was much more to his opponent than met the eye, but no sound would escape her parted lips, despite her efforts. The attempt was exhausting her, and so she stopped and merely looked on with horror as the scene unfolded before her.

     The orb was upon Axe in a matter of seconds that seemed more like hours. Gala tried to look away as the small but deadly force collided with her brother’s chest, but found that, just as her voice had ceased to function, her body would not respond.

     Axe fell to the floor with a deafening thud, but all Gala heard was her world shattering for the second time.

     *****

     I hurt.

     That’s all I could think about. I seemed to be floating, like in a dream, through darkness. There was a searing pain in my chest, and upon further inspection, a sizeable gash beneath my ripped tunic proved to be the answer. The fur and fabric around the laceration was charred, as if it had been burned.

     ‘Oh great,’ I thought, irritated by this sudden turn of events. ‘More scars. Just what I need. As if I don’t look like enough of a freak already.’

     My thoughts were disrupted by my hind paws coming in contact with something not quite solid, but supporting nonetheless. I stood in the darkness that surrounded me, confused, wondering why, if I was going to die, I hadn’t done so already.

     A warm, yellow glow appeared in front of me, and I blinked rapidly at the sudden light. There was a figure within the glow that I couldn’t quite make out. It grew until it became my height, and I recognized the silhouette as that of another Gelert. The glow faded until it was only bright enough to illuminate the Gelert, and I found myself staring into the face of an older version of myself. The Gelert before me radiated with a power stronger than any I had ever felt before, and it was all that I could do to keep my eyes on him. He must have sensed my confusion, for the Gelert put out a paw and spoke in a voice that sounded like a deeper version of my own.

     “Do not be alarmed, Conaxe. I am your inner Echo, a physical manifestation of the power that lies within you. We are deep within the darkest recesses of your own subconscious.” The Gelert motioned to the darkness around us.

     “But... but why am I here? I should be dead, shouldn’t I?” I asked, confused.

     He seemed to laugh quietly at that before replying. “I would not allow you to die at the hands of another Echo, Conaxe. When you leave here you will return to your physical body. However, remember this: you are not immortal, little Echo. Your enemies can and will try to destroy you, and should they succeed, then all the world is doomed to fall to the shadow beast of Syrokai’s desires. You must remain ever alert. Do you understand?”

     I nodded, still absorbing what had been said. The Gelert seemed satisfied, for he turned his back and began to walk away into the darkness.

     “Wait!” I cried after his retreating form. “What if I need you again? How do I call on you?”

     The reply came almost as soon as the words had left my mouth, but I did not hear it with my ears. Instead the words seemed to come from within my own mind. “I am a part of you, Conaxe Darkfang. I am always here when you need me. In time you will learn to summon and control my power, but you are not yet ready to harness the power within you alone. I will aid you until that time comes.”

     And then there was nothing but darkness, and I was alone once again.

     *****

     Voraki gaped at the fallen Gelert’s lifeless form in utter disbelief. How could this happen? This wasn’t happening. It couldn’t be. And then reality sunk in for the Aisha, and she turned to the Zafara floating smugly a few feet away. The smirk on his face was enough to set off her temper and she exploded.

     “You IDIOT! Complete and utter disgrace! Do you realize what you’ve done?! You ignorant, worthless excuse for an Echo! You have no right to the title-“

     Voraki’s tirade was cut short by a warm glow behind her. In front of her the Zafara’s eyes had widened in shock, and she turned to see what he was gaping at. Her own mouth fell open at the sight.

     Axe’s seemingly dead body was glowing with an intense gold light. The limp form rose into the air, only to land in an upright position. As the light began to fade, the Gelert’s eyelids snapped open to reveal eyes both similar and different to those of the Axe that Voraki knew. They were gold and pupil-less like Axe’s own, but the gold had flooded into the whites, causing them to disappear completely. The solid gold void of the stranger’s eyes stared at Finality in a way that made his ghostly form shudder involuntarily, much to Voraki’s terror and amusement.

     When the stranger (for he was certainly not Axe) spoke, it made Voraki’s blood run cold.

     “Do you think you have won some victory, Finality? Has taking the life of an innocent brought you joy? Do you really forget yourself so?”

     Voraki could only look on in terrified confusion as the Zafara shuddered once more, and blinked hard. When the Zafara, now identified as Finality, opened his eyes, they had been transformed to resemble a deep purple version of the Gelert’s. He spoke in a voice much unlike his own, one that was soft and gentle, though laced with a hint of the familiar malice and venom.

     “You know as well as I what we must defend ourselves against, Conaxe.”

     “I know well the dangers, but that is no excuse. Have you lost your sight in your reincarnation? Have your senses been ripped from you?” the Gelert barked angrily, his voice dripping disdain.

     “I... I have lost nothing of myself, Conaxe. You would do well not to question me.” Pure anger had replaced the gentleness of what Voraki would come to call Pre-Finality’s voice. His eyebrows had furrowed menacingly as he spoke.

     “I would question any Echo who would willingly destroy his fellow,” Pre-Conaxe replied calmly, the utter disgust never leaving his otherwise conversational tone.

     “Then you are as blind as you ever were, all those years ago when first we discovered ourselves. The world has changed since those days, whether you accept it or not. We were never meant to meet. We were meant to live alone, away from the other denizens of this corrupted world. We were meant to allow this world to be destroyed so that we could rise up and rebuild it from nothing, so that we could mould a new age into our own Utopia.” Pre-Finality’s voice was rising steadily as he spoke, so that his next words were a low roar of rage. Voraki could see his translucent fists clenching, his arms shaking in his rage.

     “But you would not let it be. You would not allow fate to play out on its own. You convinced the others that we were destined to save this world from destruction, and they willingly agreed, eager as they were for someone to follow, those poor, misguided souls. I followed you because I believed in my heart that you would protect us, that you would save us from the utter destruction that I could feel was looming over us. And then we faced the beast that threatened our world, and I knew I was mistaken for trusting you. I perished that day, you’ll remember. My life was ripped from me. And as I took my last dying breath I saw you, standing there in that arrogant way, watching your comrades fall around you, and you were laughing, Darkfang. Laughing. Don’t think I couldn’t see the look on your face as I fell.”

     Pre-Conaxe remained silent during this speech, his ears drooping lightly. Pre-Finality’s voice had risen to its peak before steadily dropping to barely above a whisper, his sentences becoming fragmented. Voraki watched his face in mixed surprise and sympathy. The pained look upon the Zafara’s features was so uncharacteristic that she had to look again to be sure she hadn’t imagined it. Unshed tears had gathered in his eyes as he spoke, and as he concluded they fell, quickly drenching the fur of his cheeks.

     Pre-Conaxe spoke, but this time the disgust had been replaced with a sympathetic sadness.

     “You were not the only one to die that day, Finality. We all perished. All of us. Even I was destroyed in the battle. But we also destroyed him. With our deaths came the new age you spoke of, Finality, and though we were not there to witness it, so many others prospered from our victory. I laughed that day because I knew so many would live if we succeeded. I am sorry you did not understand and share in my joy, but do you now realize what we did? We will never be written about in history books, but we gave our lives in exchange for peace and prosperity. We lived and died and were born again, and again we have a duty to defend this world. Have you truly lived in bitterness for these past hundreds of years?”

     Pre-Finality choked out a sob before replying, “I have never lived, Conaxe. Even when life was given back to me I have not lived. Look at me! Can you not see what I have become? My anger has consumed me. My guard has been reduced to nothing. The beast of so long ago sent his minion to slay me again, and he has succeeded. I am dead again, Conaxe. My body has been torn from me, and yet my soul will not move on. I am trapped here in this limbo, between worlds, unable to indulge in the simple pleasures of life, and yet unable to settle into the peaceful slumber of death. I cannot feel the breeze against my fur, I cannot taste the sweetness of the newly ripened fruit when the weather grows warm, I cannot breathe the fresh sweet air of the open country. I cannot live at all!”

     Pre-Finality sank to his ghostly knees and buried his face in his paws, howling his sorrow to the night. Pre-Conaxe paced forward and knelt beside him.

     “One day you will live again, my old friend, but for now you must find peace in companionship. Our new forms need one another to survive the trials that lie ahead. I do not ask you to forgive me for leaving you so alone and confused for so long, but I do ask that you aid my ward whenever possible. He is young and foolish and knows naught of the outside world.”

     Pre-Finality looked up into the Gelert’s face and wiped the dampness from his cheeks hastily. His composure soon returned. “So you ask it, so I shall comply. Peace to you, my old friend. May you rest eternally when at last our duty is complete.”

     With that the purple glow left the Zafara’s eyes, reducing them to their original crimson state. Finality’s body slumped forward, the ghostly glow fading in and out as his inner Echo faded back into his subconscious.

     Pre-Conaxe watched the Zafara’s body crumple with a mixture of sadness and appreciation upon his features. He then slowly turned to Voraki, chuckling as she attempted to take a step back only to realize she was already pressed as far against the wall as she could make her small frame go. She stiffened a bit at the sound, then relaxed, aware that he was not planning to harm her.

     “Little Aisha of the noble house of Elnereil, heed my words. You have been chosen by fate to be the next Mage of Echoes, as is the duty of your family. Your mentors have not given you this task by chance. From birth you have been marked as the one that will aid the Echoes in their struggle. Be strong of heart and mind, and watch over the youngling Conaxe. I place him in your able paws. Do not let him stray from the light, or all the world is doomed to know the darkness.”

     Voraki nodded mutely, still recovering from what had taken place within the last few minutes. The Gelert seemed satisfied by this and nodded in return. As the glow faded from his eyes and he returned to the recesses of Axe’s mind, she heard his parting words in her mind.

     “I trust that you will not falter in your duties, Voraki Elnereil. Fail me and the world as you know it falls with you.”

     “I... I won’t fail,” Voraki whispered to the stillness of the room, breaking a silence only punctuated by the gentle breathing of the two unconscious forms laying sprawled upon the floor. “I won’t fail you, master.”

     *****

     The darkness had returned. All I could do was float aimlessly through the shadows as I waited for something I wasn’t even sure was going to happen. And then, suddenly, I was falling. Just as I was sure the falling would never end I landed with a crash that would have hurt immensely had I been capable of feeling at the moment.

     I blinked hard to find myself back in the room in which I had met the Zafara that had tried to kill me, lying face up on the floor. My chest throbbed with a stabbing pain that made me groan out loud.

     I saw Voraki pressed against the wall to my right, and at the sound she rushed to my side.

     “Axe, hey Axe, are you alright?”

     I sat up, rubbing my head and wincing. “My chest hurts,” I stated lamely.

     “I’m sure it does. You took quite a blow there. Speaking of which, lookie there. Ghost boy’s comin’ ‘round.”

     I followed the direction of her gaze to see the Zafara from earlier sitting up and shaking himself. I stood with some difficulty, swaying a bit as I tried to get used to having control of my legs back. The Zafara rose as well and floated over to me. He held out a paw awkwardly and I shook it, ignoring my extreme confusion. He looked up at me.

     “Name’s Finality. You’ll want to remember that. Now come on. We don’t have all the time in the world. Gotta find the others.” With that he floated away through the wall. I glanced at Voraki, silently asking for an explanation. She giggled uneasily.

     “I’ll explain later. You wouldn’t believe me anyway.”

     “At this point I’d believe you if you told me Snorkles could fly,” I replied.

     “Well, they do come in the faerie variety, ya know,” Voraki retorted as she left the room, some of her regular attitude returning. She peered around the doorframe when I didn’t follow. “Now c’mon. You heard ‘im. ‘We don’t have all the time in the world. Gotta find the others.’” With that she disappeared once again and I followed, shaking my head.

     *****

     That was it. The last straw. She wouldn’t take this anymore. She refused. Axe was alive. She had seen him. But he was hurt. She had to save him. She would save him. Setting her jaw in a firm grimace, she held onto the mast of the tiny sail boat, unfurling the sails. They would come looking for her come morning. Mr. Tamiko would be angry that his boat was gone, but she was sure he’d understand. Mama and Papa would be crushed when they found her missing from her bed. She hadn’t left a note. She wanted them to search the island first, that way she’d have more time to reach the mainland that she knew from old faerie tales existed somewhere far to the north. That would be where Axey had gone. She just knew it.

     Galaduine Darkfang braced herself against the steadily increasing wind, resolution set firmly upon her face. She would find him and she would bring him back home where he belonged.

     *****

     I listened to Voraki’s recollection of events intently as we sat around the fire she had made. She hadn’t been happy that we would need to camp in the woods tonight, but we were both exhausted, and so she had reluctantly agreed. Now both myself and Finality, the Zafara ghost, sat back to hear the tale of the argument that had ensued between the original Echoes.

     She finished with the last words the Gelert she had called Pre-Conaxe had spoken to her within her mind. I glanced at Finality. He looked both regretful and amazed. I looked down to my chest, thinking with slight malice that he should be regretful as my eyes landed on the roughly patched fabric. The rough binding beneath was constricting and uncomfortable.

     “Well, that’s it. Now, we gotta get a bright an’ early start tomorrow, so you two’d best get some rest, yeah?” Voraki said after her story was finished.

     Finality and I nodded agreement as the three of us found sleeping spots in the grass. Voraki doused the fire, causing the entire campsite to become pitch black, before returning to the spot she had picked out.

     “Voraki?” I asked as I closed my eyes, fiddling with my axe, the sheath clutch possessively in one paw.

     “Hmm?” came the sleepy reply from somewhere to my left.

     “Where are we going next? I mean, we don’t really have any leads.”

     “We’ll be heading to Brightvale an’ Meridell next. Their sister kingdoms to the northeast o’ here. Real woodsy, old fashioned places, the both of ‘em. Not only are they the closest lands to the Haunted Woods, but the abundant trees an’ forests an’ such are the kinda thing that’d attract the Echo of Earth. But first, we’ll be paying a visit to a few of my ‘colleagues.’ I have a feeling they’ll be very interested to meet you.”

     “Oh,” I replied, the information not really sinking in. Tomorrow was another day, another struggle, and something Finality had said earlier had been bothering me.

     ‘You’re here to finish what your friend started. The shadow child that was here earlier.’

     Shadow child? If my suspicions were correct, I had the feeling that I would be having a bit of a ‘reunion’ with an old friend. As I descended into sleep, I couldn’t help but feel that this reunion would be anything but friendly.

The End

Author’s Note: Big apology for the length of time this took. I hope you’ll all forgive me and I hope it was worth the wait! A special thanks goes to tweak_tweak_ for allowing me to corrupt *cough* I mean use Finality. Also, a big thanks to all the readers and to all those who have contributed ideas to my vision. You guys rock my world and keep my fingers hitting the keys. :] Look out for the next chapter in the Echoes series soon (hopefully, ha :P)!

 
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